“Having light we pass it on to others” is the motto of my undergraduate alma mater, Wittenberg University. But it could easily be a theme for the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015). As the celebratory year closes, those of us who have light (who understand its unique position in and promise for our world) have a duty to continue passing on to others our love & appreciation of light.
When was the last time you typed “Light” in the Google search bar? Can’t recall? Perhaps that’s because you did not. Light, being a topic that we have been studying ever since we were kids, doesn’t really entice one to especially look it up on the internet. That is until the topic of light surfaces as the theme of a special edition in a youth newspaper. That was exactly our aim, making the subject of light conspicuous and encourage the students to know the rather unknown about light in The Global Times (1), a registered student newspaper.
The first and foremost initiative undertaken as a part of the special edition was to decode why we are celebrating the International Year of Light. Not many children in India know that it is Ibn al-Haytham, dubbed as the ‘Father of Modern optics’ who brought light into our lives. Thereafter, students did a series of research work on the life of Ibn al-Haytham which were then converted into the top story of the edition. The story Ibn al-Haytham presented in very simple words was homage to this man who made outstanding contribution to the understanding of vision, optics and light.
If we looked for a quality that is fundamentally human and universal, our curiosity about the world that surrounds us would probably be it. This feeling peeps into young minds, it grows and flares, pushing us to know more, to break our limitations, to rise up from the ground into the shining eternity of the Universe. On this quest we might sometimes feel small, lost or bewildered, but we can also envision humankind as one people, united in a journey through the cosmos on this one-of-a-kind spaceship called Planet Earth.
Activities on light in indigenous communities at the Amazon, a big fair on science and light in Brasilia, with about 100,000 visitors, mostly children and young people, interactive exhibitions in public places in Rio de Janeiro, mobile science activities in the slums of large cities, experiments on light and solar energy in small villages in Minas Gerais or in the inner cities of the Northeast, conferences and debates on light based technologies in universities and schools. Many such activities were held in Brazil, throughout the year, to celebrate the IYL 2015.
The National Institute of Technology (NIT) Calicut (India) organized a three-day event Tathva’15 from 30 October to 01 November 2015 at the NIT Campus, Calicut, Kerala, India. The event included invited lectures, workshops and exhibitions. The workshops were desgined to Illuminate the young minds by developing skills in a wide range of engineering disciplines. There were exhibitions on the rich heritage of Indian railways, India’s first 3D printed humanoid robot, Light: Beyond the Bulb, and state-of-the-art electronics by Keltron. There were five invited lectures by experts in different disciplines. I delivered a lecture on the ‘The Story of Light’ covering the Greek era (pre- 8th century C.E.), the Arab-Islamic Golden Age (8th to 15th century C.E.), the European period (16th to 19th century C.E.) and the modern period (20th century C.E. onwards).